Chabot Puente Transfer Student Accepted Directly into UCSF School of
As a single mother holding down two jobs to make ends meet while taking
classes at her local community college, the farthest thing from Lorena Vidro's
mind was being admitted to the top pharmacy school in the country, let alone
doing so without first having earned her Bachelor's degree.
"Once it sunk in, I thought to myself, 'Why not me?' " she says. "I deserve
it as much as anyone else-maybe more. I've sure struggled enough."
Only five to ten percent of students accepted into the program are admitted
to a class of about 100 students from thousands of applicants from throughout
the world. Generally, all students need a B.S. from a four-year college or
university. This honor is the second recent accolade for Vidro, who earlier this
year received a $5,000 scholarship from Kaiser Permanente and was presented with
the award at the annual Puente Mentor-Student Breakfast.
"She's the classic student from the barrio-she has worked so hard to get
here, but she doesn't make a big deal about it. She's always had to work two
jobs," says Vidro's counselor at Chabot, Ramon Parada. "I'm so proud of
her-there was a time when a lot of her friends were dropping out and she was
questioning whether she would stick with it or not. Puente provided the support
and motivation she needed. This also demonstrates that the (motivational
transfer) conferences really work."
Puente's 1998 Motivational Transfer Conference was indeed a turning point for
Vidro. Hosted by UCSF, the conference featured a panel presentation including
Maria Lopez, a Latina student in the school of pharmacy. Lopez helped inspire
Vidro to believe that she too could reach her dreams of becoming a pharmacist.
"You get to help people in a very direct way by partnering with doctors to
improve the quality of care," she says. "Being a pharmacist is not just counting
pills any more-you counsel people about medical issues that have a real impact
on their lives."
She was also motivated by the shortage of pharmacists, particularly bilingual
English/Spanish ones. "I have never met a Spanish-speaking pharmacist, so I
thought this would be an opportunity to serve a lot of people who face
communication challenges that affect their health."
Her journey has not been easy. Her grueling work schedule and commitment to
her daughter often made it difficult for her to concentrate on her studies.
"I've had to force myself to cut back on my work hours so I could focus on my
classes," says Vidro, who is the first in her family to attend college.
Vidro's acceptance into UCSF marks important milestones for both UCSF and
"The collaboration among UCSF's different disciplines and departments to
achieve a pool of culturally competent health providers as potential applicants
is one of our major missions," says Dr. David Sanchez, Professor and Faculty
Associate for Student Outreach. "Puente's community college program has been a
key part of that effort. Through the (motivational transfer) conferences,
students are exposed to the unique challenges and opportunities in the health
sciences and, given the uniqueness of their language and culture, Puente does a
fantastic job in meeting the needs of traditionally underrepresented students."
Eugene Salazar, UCSF's Senior External Program Officer of the Dean's External
Program in the School of Medicine, says he is confident Vidro will succeed. "I'm
delighted for her," he says. "I hope she inspires future generations of students
to follow in her footsteps."
Vidro agrees that if she can do it, so can others. "I feel like I've beaten
the odds. People say it can't be done, but I've proven them wrong," she says.
"There's nothing that can convince me to turn back now."